Considering that I take it as a personal challenge to convince other readers who don’t like to quit books that they can, in fact, quit a book they don’t like, you would think that at the end of the year I would only be concerned about quality instead of quantity. But the truth is, there is just a part of me that is absolutely not happy if the total at the end of year is not at least 24. So when goodreads sent me my “See Your Year in Books” email a couple of weeks ago and it said “Congratulations! You read 22 books!” I snarled and immediately started book 23, which I finished today, and today I started book 24 and it is going on this list because it WILL be done before the end of the day on Tuesday therefore it counts. But the better news it that I did, in fact, read some quality books this year.
This list is in reverse chronological order, starting with where I am right now, with the exception of my favorites, which will be listed last regardless of when in the year I read them. And this year I am listing all of the books I read instead of just the ones I wanted to specifically highlight. Just for fun.
Looking for Alaska by John Green: let’s just go ahead and point out that Green will be on this list 3 times this year and also it is the first year I’ve read anything by him. I don’t have an opinion yet because I’m only 51 pages in but I will be done by Tuesday. I will.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe: Will and his mom, both avid readers, form an unintentional book club while she is undergoing treatment for cancer. You can tell by the title how it ends. It’s a true story, and it’s touching and difficult. One of my favorite parts was their discussion of Gilead and Home, as Will’s mom was a huge fan of Marilynne Robinson.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger: my first Salinger. Constant dialogue and not a lot of action and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It will not be my last Salinger.
Paper Towns by John Green: insightful in interesting ways but not as good as the Green that shows up later on this list.
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza: very thought-provoking
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling): it was the perfect cruise vacation private detective novel and I hope Rowling writes more of them.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: this book has made it onto several best of 2013 lists and while I am not sorry I read it, I disagree with it being one of the best. It was a very long 463 pages of little to no plot and all character driven. It had some moments of true depth but they were few and far between and I was relieved when I was done.
January First by Michael Schofield: the youngest child on record to be diagnosed with schizophrenia-this is her story of “descent into madness and her father’s struggle to save her.” I was incredibly intrigued but ended up feeling increasingly angry and frustrated with both the hospitals and her parents.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris: I always love Sedaris, except not the fiction chapters.
The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes: I read this because Moyes wrote one of my favorites of the year (later in the list) and the library happened to have it on the shelf-no hold required. Mostly I spent my week with it embarrassed that it looked like a romance novel and hoping no one in the coffee shop was noticing that. But I ended up liking it more when it was over than I had expected to.
Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy: The prologue will confuse you. The rest of the book will intrigue you, make you sad and thoughtful, wish you could reach in and fix a few flaws. The very end will make your heart beat a bit faster as everything comes full circle in a way you didn’t see coming.
Night by Elie Wiesel: I feel like I should have liked it more than I did.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Loved it. It’s making the rounds in Literary Society which makes me happy.
Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander: Dark and weird
Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Pacific Northwest by Gregg Olson: An interesting (and crazy) true story
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Green: delightful
The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister: the follow up to one of my favorites of a few years ago, The School of Essential Ingredients. Loved it almost as much as the first one.
And that brings me to my favorites. Yep, I have 7 favorites (because I know you were counting to get to 24). Sometimes I give my favorites their own special titles, like “favorite fiction” or “favorite book by an author I want to stalk” or something like that. This year I’m just going to say these were my favorite books of the year for whatever reason they happened to be a favorite.
Home by Marilynne Robinson: This is the many-years-later follow up to Gilead which I loved in 2010, and I think I loved Home even more. I related to the characters even more than I had in Gilead. In 2012, I named her book Housekeeping one of the top fiction books of the year (here is a link to my 2012 list of books, which is on the old site I’m no longer writing on). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-Robinson is a genius of a writer.
The Circle by Dave Eggers: If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about favorite authors overall, you already know I love Eggers and read everything he writes, even though I have not always loved every book. He gives me a lot to think about every time. I really got into this one. It’s the one I read all 500 pages of in one weekend. It’s been discussed at Literary Society twice now with more times on the horizon. If you are on a social network at all, read this book. If you despise them, read this book. The story is fast moving and easy and will make you roll your eyes and then smirk and then stare at the pages in disbelief and then panic because you know it’s not all that far fetched. The main character is flat and the ending is rushed but it is still so very good and needs to be read. Critical reviews compared it to Orwell’s 1984. Read it.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve already reviewed this book here. I hope Hosseini keeps writing.
Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy. Already reviewed here. I love that I have forced this book upon a few people who have come back and loved it as much as I did. I suppose this is my favorite non-fiction of the year (if I was giving my favorites specific categories) as it’s the only non-fiction of the top 7.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Already reviewed here.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Already reviewed here. This was the year of John Green for me. I’m ok with that. Please please tell me if you read this book so we can discuss it.
And finally, the book I really am pushing on almost everyone: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Discussed already here. If you read this book, you need to have my phone number, because the texts I get when people are reading this one make me smile and then sometimes when they are done and they text me how much they are crying, I start crying again too.
If you’re still reading, thanks for getting all the way though my list! I really loved this year in books. I hope 2014 is even better!